On Sunday, May 27th, the 122nd edition of the prestigious French Open tournament gets underway at Roland-Garros, Paris, France. The French Open is the second of four Grand Slam Tournaments held each year and it’s the only one of them to be played on clay. It’s also considered the toughest tournament of the four due to the surface and the seemingly unpredictable elements.
This year’s tournament has a stark contrast between the women’s and men’s side. For the men, it’s basically Rafael Nadal versus the world. On the women’s side, there’s more of an uncertainty as to who will win.
French Open Men’s Odds: Nadal vs The World
As mentioned, the men’s side is going to be all about Rafael Nadal and if anyone can dethrone him. Currently, Nadal sits as the #2 ranked men’s player in the world, right behind his longtime rival Roger Federer. There’s a good chance that Nadal earns back that #1 ranking by time the French Open begins.
Federer will not be playing in this year’s French Open. For the third straight year, Tennis’ all-time Grand Slams winner for men is taking the tournament off in order to focus on the grass season which includes Wimbledon. Also, noticeably absent from the French Open is Andy Murray who’s recovering from hip surgery. The 3 time grand slam winner is hoping to get back in time for Wimbledon. His best finish at the French Open was runner up in 2016 as he lost in the finals to Novak Djokovic.
So, Nadal strolls into the French Open as the clear cut favorite, with a great shot at winning his record 11th French Open and adding to his total of 16 career grand slam titles.
The following is a list of the Top 5 betting contenders to dethrone Nadal at Roland-Garros:
Dominic Thiem +600
At age 24, Thiem is a rising star from Austria. He’s currently ranked 8th in the world at the time of this writing. Dominic had a strong showing at the French Open in 2017 as he made it to the Semi-Finals before losing to Nadal. Along the way, he knocked off 5 opponents including Djokovic, which means that he has defeated all members of “the Big 4” of men’s tennis in his career: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, and Murray.
Most recently, Thiem just knocked off Nadal in the Madrid Open, which is considered by many to be a tune-up for the French Open. Ironically, Dominic also defeated Nadal last year on clay at the Rome Masters. Could Thiem be Rafael’s kryptonite this year at the French Open?
Depending on his draw, Thiem has a good chance of getting back to the Semi-Finals and possibly the Finals where he would be a decent bet to win his first grand slam.
Alexander Zverev +900
Zverev is an exciting, young tennis pro at just 21 years old. The German is currently ranked #3 in the world and just defeated Thiem for the Madrid Open title. He’s also just the 5th active men’s player to win at least 3 Masters titles, which puts him in the same breath as “the Big 4” that we referred to above.
Unfortunately, Alexander was bounced in the first round of the French Open in 2017. But, he’s put together a solid calendar year since then, including a 4th round exit at Wimbledon. Zverev is rounding into form at just the right time. His right handed backhand and two-hander are proving to be very overpowering to his opponents. He provides some decent value and could go far depending on his draw.
Novak Djokovic +900
What’s going on with Djokovic? He’s currently sitting 18th in the rankings, which is his lowest ranking since October 2006. He fell 6 spots after losing in the second round of the Madrid Open, where both Thiem and Zverev looked very impressive. The soon-to-be 31 year old Serbian is struggling to get back into form after battling an elbow injury and two surgeries over the last two years.
Novak has won 12 grand slam titles, but hasn’t won a grand slam tournament since the 2016 French Open where he defeated Andy Murray. Novak has 3 other runner up finishes in the French Open and certainly would be a threat to dethrone Nadal if Djokovic can return to full health before the tournament begins. Rafael and Novak have one of the best rivalries over the last decade and they certainly would provide fireworks in this year’s French Open if they meet each other on the clay.
Juan Martin Del Potro +1700
Del Potro is currently the #6 ranked men’s tennis player in the world. The 29 year old Argentinian has one grand slam title under his belt – the US Open in 2009. However, he won that title by defeating both Nadal and Feder back-to-back, becoming the first man to ever defeat those two in the same major. It also marked the first time that anyone outside of “the Big 4” won a grand slam title between 2005 and 2013.
Del Potro was eliminated in the 3 round of last year’s French Open. Prior to that, he took off the previous 4 French Opens. This year, Del Potro is rounding into form at the right time as he’s had some strong showings in 2018 so far. He could be the best value for the men’s side if Djokovic isn’t back to his top form.
Stan Wawrinka +2100
The 33 year old Swiss tennis player is currently ranked 23rd and looking to get back to form following knee surgery. He struggled at the Italian Open and seems to be more of a long shot to dethrone Nadal at the French Open than the other guys on this list. However, Wawrinka does have 3 grand slam titles under his belt including the 2105 French Open. He’s also defeated Nadal in a grand slam finals before – the 2014 Australian Open.
Wawrinka is the current runner up from last year’s French Open as he lost in the finals to Nadal. In the last 3 French Opens, Stan has two finals appearances and one semi-final appearance. The clay court is his favorite surface. If he wasn’t recovering from knee surgery, he would probably be the odds on favorite to take out Nadal.
French Open Women’s Odds: The Excitement of Uncertainty
As mentioned, this year’s French Open on the women’s side is wide open. And, that’s largely due to Serena Williams not being back to her dominant form after giving birth last September. With that said, the uncertainty of who will win this year has definitely brought an element of excitement to the tournament.
The following are the Top 6 women to win the French Open:
Simona Halep +500
Halep is the current #1 women’s player in the world. And, right now, the 26 year old Romanian is the odds on favorite to win the French Open. Halep has had a strong 2018 so far, but did lose in the Australian Open final to Caroline Wozniacki, who’s chasing after her for the #1 ranking.
Halep is the runner up from last year’s French Open as she lost to Jelena Ostapenko in the Finals. She also finished as the runner up in 2014 to Maria Sharapova. Simona has all of the tools to be a grand slam winner. She’s also proven to be solid on clay. The question isn’t “if” she can win at the French Open, but “when.” And, this year, she certainly has her best chance to do so.
Serena Williams +700
Serena is on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time greats in women’s tennis. The 23-time grand slam winner did not play at Roland-Garros last year and there is some whispers that she could pull out at the last minute this year. Her coach has publicly stated that Serena came back too soon. However, it’s hard to keep a champion down for too long. If there’s any chance of Serena playing, she will be at Roland-Garros.
Williams has won 3 French Opens out of 15 tries. Her last appearance was in 2016, when she lost to Garbine Muguruza in the finals. If Williams does participate this year, what Serena will we be getting?
She has recently withdrawn from two French Open tune-up tournaments – Madrid and Rome. She also hasn’t played in a grand slam tournament since the Australian Open in 2017, which she was pregnant and still won the tournament. When she did play this year, she was bounced early at Indian Wells and Miami.
My advice is to stay away from Serena until we see how good her form is. Muguruza and Halep are better betting options right now.
Elina Svitolina +800
The 23 year old Ukrainian is ranked #4 in the world and is also looking to win her first grand slam title. To date, her best French Open finish was the quarter final last year and in 2015. In 2018, she made it to the quarter final of the Australian Open and is looking to successfully defend her title at Rome, just before Roland-Garros.
Svitolina is definitely a future star of the sport, but I have to wonder if she has what it takes to beat anyone else on this list of favorites. Each of these ladies have either made the finals or have won at least one grand slam title. Personally, I think the +800 odds are quite generous as I wouldn’t have her that low. If she makes it past the quarter finals, that would be a successful appearance for her.
Garbine Muguruza +800
Garbine is a 24 year old budding star and currently ranked #3 in the world, just behind Halep and Wozniacki. Mugurza has two grand slam titles under her belt, including the 2016 French Open. She’s also the reigning champion at Wimbledon.
Last year, Muguruza didn’t make it past the 4th round of the French Open. Even with that exit, she does have a 19-4 record at Roland-Garros during her career. Unfortunately, Garbine was bounced early at the Australian Open this year and her 2018 season has not gone well. She has no strong showings to brag about and leaves some cause for concern over her form heading into the French Open. If she can bounce back at Rome, then she has a chance to come out firing at Roland-Garros and making a deep run.
Jelena Ostapenko +1200
The soon-to-be 21 year old is the youngest of the favorites, but don’t let her age fool you. She’s ranked 6th in the world and has 1 grand slam title victory – the 2017 French Open. As the reigning women’s champ, I would’ve expected better odds for her. However, this +1200 does provide excellent value just behind Wozniacki.
Jelena has had and up and down 2018 so far. With early exits in tournaments like Madrid, combined with strong showings at the Miami Open, it’s hard to gauge whether Ostapenko will successfully defend her French Open title or not. Keep in mind, she did beat Halep in the French Open last year, so she does have that going for her if she were to face the women’s favorite this year.
As of this writing, Ostapenko is having a strong showing at the Italian Open. This could be a good sign for her potential success at Roland-Garros. Keep an eye on how well she does in Rome. If she wins it, that would make these odds a great value bet.
Maria Sharapova +1200
Sharapova is a 5 time grand slam winner, but the last one came back in 2014. Between suspensions, and injuries, Maria hasn’t been successful in grand slam tournaments since her quarter finals appearance at the 2016 Australian Open.
Sharapova is currently ranked #40 in the world. Her 2018 season hasn’t been great by any means. She’s been bounced early in most of the tournaments that she’s played in.
In her career, Sharapova has had her most success at the French Open where she won the tournament in 2014 and 2012. She lost in the 2013 Finals to Serena Williams. That 3 year run of Finals appearances marked her best era at Roland-Garros. Since then, she’s lost in the 4th round in 2015 and was absent from the French Open the last two years.
With her play in 2018, I don’t like her chances at the French Open. I don’t think she can regroup and make a great run. I would be surprised if she even made it to the quarter finals. Like Serena, I would stay away from Sharapova.
The Best Value
Caroline Wozniacki +2000
In my opinion, Caroline Wozniacki provides the best betting value out of both the men and women. Her +2000 seems rather high considering that she’s the #2 ranked women’s tennis player and has already claimed the Australian Open this year, which was her first grand slam title. Caroline lost in the Quarter Finals of last year’s French Open and is hoping that her early 2018 success will continue at Roland-Garros. She certainly has the skills to be a contender in any grand slam and her current French Open odds are definitely worth taking a look at.
French Open Women’s Long Shots
Venus Williams (+4000) has never won a French Open and she has yet to make it back to the quarter finals since 2006. Williams did make it to the 4th round the last two years. The #9 ranked women’s tennis player has a decent shot at Roland-Garros due to the wide open field. She’s definitely worth a consideration.
If you are struggling with taking a flyer on Venus then maybe you will like the #10 ranked Sloane Stephens better. The 25 year old American has finished in the 3rd round or better in 5 of her last 6 French Open appearances. She missed last year due to an injury. Stephens won the US Open in 2017, but struggled afterward and into 2018. She did win the Miami Open after defeating some quality opponents like Ostapenko in the finals. This could be the year that Stephens at +4000 odds finally gets into the French Open Finals.
Who will win the 2018 French Open?
After reviewing the favorites for both the men and the women, here are my picks to win the French Open:
French Open Men
Right now, Rafael Nadal is a -225 and The Field is +175. I actually like this +175 odds for The Field as I feel both Thiem (+600) and Zverev (+900) have what it takes to upend Nadal. Additionally, the wild card at Roland-Garros is Djokovic at +900. However, with all of that being said, the smart money is on Nadal.
It would take perfect games by Thiem, Zverev and the rebounding Djokovic to beat Nadal on clay. And, I don’t think that will happen despite the talent of this trio. Unless Nadal gets injured, this is his tournament to lose.Bet: Rafael Nadal -225
French Open Women
As I detailed above, all of the top women have one flaw or another, which makes this tournament such a delight because we don’t know who will win. I doubt Serena will be in top form to win this tournament and she could still pull out like she did in Madrid and Rome. Her sister Venus is a longshot, but has a good chance to advance far into this tournament.
Sharapova hasn’t done anything noteworthy on court in years, Ostapenko has had an inconsistent 2018, Muguruza hasn’t played well in 2018, Svitolina has had an up and down 2018, and Halep hasn’t even won a grand slam yet.
Halep did finish runner up at the Australian Open this year and at last year’s French Open. So, that makes two finals appearances in the last 4 grand slams. She’s the only woman to accomplish this feat.
The smart money is on Halep to finally win her first grand slam title. But, watch out for Wozniacki. I love her +2000 odds and her Australian Open win this year over Halep.